Ramil Guliyev took an unexpected 200m gold, while there were title-winning performances from US duo Kori Carter and Christian Taylor on the seventh exciting day at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Turkish delight for Guliyev
With all eyes on 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, Ramil Guliyev emerged from the shadows to take Turkey’s first ever world title, clocking 20.09 to edge a close race ahead of the South African and Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards.
The 27-year-old, drawn in lane five with Makwala immediately to his right and Van Niekerk two lanes to his left, ran a strong first 100 metres, moving on to Makwala’s shoulder as they entered the straight.
With 30 metres remaining, Olympic champion Van Niekerk was, perhaps, marginally ahead, but Guliyev held his nerve to edge into a lead, winning by just 0.02, clenching both fists as he crossed the line, confident even at that stage that the gold was his.
Van Niekerk and Richards, the Trinidad and Tobago national champion, could barely be separated by the photofinish, just one thousandth of a second the difference between silver, which went to the South African, and bronze.
Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake took fourth place in 20.24, 0.02 ahead of USA’s Ameer Webb. Makwala faded to sixth in 20.44, while Japan’s Hakim Sani Brown, the youngest ever world 200m finalist was seventh and USA’s Isiah Young, eighth.
First title for Carter
Like the men’s 200m final, the women’s 400m hurdles was won by an athlete not too many pundits had tipped for glory.
Dalilah Muhammad, the Olympic champion, and Zuzana Hejnova, the world champion in both 2013 and 2015, were both tipped to shine ahead of Kori Carter, the 25-year-old who was competing in her first senior global championships
Perhaps inspired by the previous evening’s action, Muhammad started Warholm-like, rising at the first hurdle well before any of the other athletes. But, unlike the Norwegian in the men’s race, was unable to hold off the challenge of a fast-finishing rival.
Carter stormed down the final straight to clock 53.07, with Muhammad settling for silver in 53.50. Hejnova looked to be challenging for the medals with 30 metres to go, but was passed herself in the final 50 metres by Ristananna Tracey of Jamaica.
Taylor edges Claye once again
USA teammates Christian Taylor and Will Claye first appeared together in a global championships triple jump final at the IAAF World Championships at Daegu in 2011 and their competitive meetings date back even further, to their collegiate careers in the United States.
Tonight was the latest in a series of enthralling battles and, not for the first time, just a few centimetres separated the two close friends
While the 26-year-old Claye has three outdoor global silver medals to his name, Taylor has five golds and he added another thanks to a 17.68m leap in the third round. Claye held the lead with 17.54m at the end of the first round and his next two jumps were 17.52m and 17.63m.
Taylor, though, managed 17.57m to take the lead in round two and then his 17.68m to regain the top spot before the half way stage. Nobody was to jump farther.
Nelson Evora, the 33-year-old 2008 Olympic champion, took bronze for Portugal with 17.19m.
Throwing in the deep
Johannes Vetter produced the fourth farthest throw in IAAF World Championships history in the first round of the first qualification pool, securing his place in the final in style.
The world leader’s 91.20m would have been enough to win the gold at all previous championships with the exception of Edmonton in 2001, when the great Jan Zelezny won, and Beijing two years ago, when Kenya’s Julius Yego threw 92.72m, and he will be hoping that he can replicate his form in the final.
Most of the other likely contenders for medals also made it through from two qualifying pools notable for the depth of strong performances, as 13 qualifiers did so by achieving the automatic distance, 83 metres. They included 2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki, 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott, the Rio Olympic gold medallist Thomas Rohler and Yego.
In the rounds…
Only 0.01 separated the winners of each of the women’s 200m semifinals, setting up the prospect of another close sprint final on Friday evening.
Reigning champion Dafne Schippers took the first of three races in 22.49 and, such was the size of her lead, could afford to look about with 50 metres to go. She was 0.22 ahead of Deajah Stevens in second and secured a favourable lane draw for tomorrow.
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo showed no ill-effects from Wednesday’s final in the longer sprint, also recording 22.49 for victory in the second race, finishing comfortably ahead of USA’s Kimberlyn Duncan, while 100m silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou clocked 22.50 in the third semifinal.
Britain’s Olympic finalist Dina-Asher Smith pleased the crowd by qualifying in second.
Olympic champion Caster Semenya progressed to Friday’s 800m semifinals with minimum effort, thanks to a 2:01.33 clocking in the third of six heats. The 26-year-old waited until the final 70 metres to make her move, ensuring that she expended as little energy as possible, with two races still to come.
Burundi’s Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba, US record-holder Ajee’ Wilson and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, the Olympic bronze medallist, all won their heats and looked strong, while reigning champion Marina Arzamasova was eliminated after finishing fourth in heat four. 2013 champion Eunice Sum was a late withdrawal.
Following a breath-taking performance in Saturday’s 10,000m, where she recorded a world-leading 30:16.32 in taking gold, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana returned to the track and secured a straightforward qualification for Sunday’s 5000m final.
Drawn in the first heat alongside the woman who finished one place behind her at last year’s Olympics, Hellen Obiri, the Olympic champion looked untroubled throughout the race, controlling the final three laps alongside her Kenyan rival and easing over the line in 14:57.06. Obiri, who was third over 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, took it in 14:56.70 and looked equally at ease.
In the second heat the USA’s Molly Huddle, fourth at the World Championships two years ago, made a brave bid for qualification, at one stage opening up a 30-metre lead.
She was swallowed up by the chasing pack with 100 metres to go, with six athletes crossing the line before her, led by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who recorded 14:59.34 and 14:59.85 respectively.
Huddle’s efforts were rewarded however, with progression to the final as one of the fastest non-automatic qualifiers.
Ultimately 1.92m was enough to secure a place in the women’s high jump final, a height well within the reach of all of the likely medal contenders, although some had an easier night than others.
Reigning champion Maria Lasitskene cleared all three of her efforts at the first attempt, as did Poland’s Kamila Licwinko and Yuliiya Levchenko of Ukraine, while both Olympic champion Ruth Beitia and Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch required clutch attempts to secure their own places in Saturday’s final.
The men’s 1500m heats also saw most of the main protagonists safely progress, although there were some high profile casualties.
Kenyans Elijah Manangoi, Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Cheruiyot all progressed from slow, tactical races and they were joined by Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski, Bahrain’s Sadik Mikhou, Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, New Zealand’s Nick Willis and Britain’s Chris O’Hare, who along with Australia’s Luke Matthews looked impressive.
Djibouti’s 2014 world indoor champion Ayenleh Souleiman missed out however, as did Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz, who had been troubled by an injury-hit build-up.
Dean Hardman for the IAAF